Twilight

I am not 100% sure why I decided to check out Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight from the library.  Maybe because I remember my cousin several years ago opining on how good the book was and what a transcendent experience the movies were.  I have a daughter – this could be a classic of her future self.  Surely the Harry Potter series is.  The charm of Twilight as a talisman for adolescents, or heaven forbid, adults is still elusive.  At the same time, the book is absolutely remarkable as Stephanie Meyer simultaneously shows a lack of command of vampire lore, how children and adolescents actually behave, and soft core pornography.  It’s a tour de force of ineptitude.

The story, for those who have had better things to do than to follow American culture since the turn of the century, centers around Bella Swan, a teenage girl who has decided to move back to her hometown of Forks, Washington to live with her father.  Bella’s mother seems young and not the world’s best authority figure, but she has fallen in love with a baseball player – and the circumstances of a minor league ballplayer’s lifestyle is a bit more itinerant than Bella seemed to want.  As those who have grown up around Disney know, this is a very canny way to get the parents out of the way so that the teenager can have her own awakening and adventures, or what have you.  Dad, for what it’s worth, seems nice enough and is the local police chief, but does not seem particularly special in any way, although he does get her an old truck.

The story to this point has been about how this girl from Phoenix moves to a lame-o town in the Northwest where it’s never sunny, and goes to a high school with a bunch of bubbleheaded nitwits.  Now this shallow point is not made overtly – but Meyer’s characterization of the boys and girls are either boys who are smitten by the new ashen-hued stranger, or girls who want to talk about boys and dresses and hair.  Now there is no doubt that these are childish concerns, but if I am not mistaken, Bella is also a teenager.  Meyer is trying to have it both ways, having Bella be a high schooler who is somehow someone who has never had a boyfriend/girlfriend while simultaneously harboring the thoughts of a 37 year old woman.

So, where were we?  The boys are all doofuses and the girls are all bubbleheaded.  But over at the lunch table are some impossibly good looking kids (and even more pale than Bella!).  They seem awfully sophisticated to be around these parts.  Bella certainly is taken.  Her friend tells them they are the Cullen family – and Edward in particular captures Bella.  Later in a biology class, he has trouble sitting next to her.  So clearly Edward is stricken to, in some way or another.

Edward is a strange fellow in other ways too.  His eyes change color from time to time, and he seems to have superhuman speed.  He seems intent on saving Bella’s life all the time too.  This is the sort of thing which would win a girl’s heart – but aside from his good looks, there does not seem to be much for Bella to hang her hat on.  Meyer is fond of throwaway descriptions like “Edward was waiting, leaning casually against the side of the gym, his breathtaking face untroubled now.”, the sort of thing which reads more like a romance novel cover, and makes me make that gesture where I stick my finger down my throat.

Funny thing is, I could keep going on about this, but Meyer fills the story with howlers, and it makes more sense to go bulletizing for brevity’s sake:

  • The Cullens are vampires – sorry to break this to you – but Meyer does not have any real connection to Stoker or Anne Rice here.  The vampires don’t like the sun, but it’s not because they melt – it is because it shows their non-humanness.  In one description it sounds more like shimmering or some such.  Weirdly, I have no problem with Meyer making up her vampires.  It’s really the 25th or so most absurd thing here.
  • The vampires DO have a thirst for blood though.  Edward says they reconcile it by hunting bears.  These people live on Olympic Peninsula.  As the life partner noted, the National Parks Service ought to be clued in on this.
  • Apparently Edward’s fascination with Bella is related to her smell – she smells delicious, like a favorite ice cream flavor.  Yet despite this, Bella’s attraction to Edward only grows.  “I want to eat you” should be a cue for a woman to run away, unless that sentence is followed by a specific preposition.
  • Edward is presented as the only decent fellow in a lame town.  Of course then she meets another kid about her age named Jacob whom she has known since she was a child.  But she is trusting the guy who wants to eat her.
  • Bella seems obsessed with Edwards body, face, and looks.  That sounds good, but the descriptions Meyer uses seem more off reject script lines for Samantha from “Sex and the City” than any adolescent I’ve heard of.
  • Bella and Edward do not make out or “do it” or anything close.  Just a lot of significant looks and descriptions of having her breath taken away.  While I understand Meyer’s avoidance of smut, here it seems very much called for.  Given how much of the book is spent just looking at Edward, it would at least get the story moving.

There is a lot that is ridiculous about Twilight.  It is basically its own parody.  I cannot in any good conscience recommend it, because it is bad.  I pity those who got some sort of life lesson or transcendent connection.  At the same time, the absurdity of the whole deal makes reading the sequel an interesting idea at the very least.  The ridiculousness of it is innately entertaining – like a typical Bachelor/Bachelorette episode.  I guess it’s a good palate cleanser if you’ve read a Booker Prize nominee or something previously.  It certainly does not qualify for any sort of award on its own.

 

The Marvelous Land of Oz

The Marvelous Land of Oz, L. Frank Baum’s 1904 sequel to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is … well, it’s not dull.  Actually, this makes it sound trashy, when it is a fun, whimsical journey focusing on a different portion of Oz.  While some of the plot made it into the 1985 film Return to Oz, in this story, Baum picks up from where Dorothy’s clicked heels left off and gives us a different sort of tale.  While the first book gave us the notion of Oz as a large place with many stories and peoples, this book gives us a new story in a new place.  It also continues Baum’s interest in strong female characters as well as his embrace of the virtues of the weirdo.

This time we start with Gillkin Country, the Northern Part of the land of Oz, where a young boy named Tip lives with his aunt Mombi.  Mombi does not seem to like Tip very much, making him do all the work and generally treating him poorly.  Mombi is also a semi-practicing witch, which is an issue since witchcraft was outlawed.  As a prank, Tip makes a scarecrow sort of figure out of a pumpkin to scare Mombi, but she is not moved.  She reacts by sprinkling some life powder she got from another sorcerer and suddenly the pumpkin head moves.  Tip is in big trouble here – and with Mombi threatening to turn him into a statue he steals some powder and runs away with Jack Pumpkinhead.

The book is droll throughout as we cover Tip’s journey.  Jack Pumpkinhead is a kind enough soul, and he never gets tired (seeing as he is not human).  However he is danger of rotting (seeing that he is part pumpkin).  But clearly walking is a hard way to run away so Tip sprinkles life powder on a saw horse, and suddenly he becomes a real horse.  Again, Baum does not miss details – the horse never tires but his wooden legs can wear down.  This stuff keeps the journey light.

It gets even sillier when the Sawhorse gets away from Tip and Tip is almost captured in the throes of the revolt of General Jinjur and her all-girl army.  The girls take over the Emerald City (and its extremely poorly equipped army) and usurp the Scarecrow who was seated as leader.  So now they are all running away as Jinjur’s army (all with large knitting needles as swords) and they head to the West to find the Tim Woodman (now Nickel Plated).

All of this is good entertainment, especially for the younger readers – and what is particularly noticeable is the lack of obvious machismo, particularly for a 1904 book.  Mombi, the main antagonist in the book is a woman, and certainly our heroes (let alone the Gump and Wogglebug who later arrive – never mind the details) are not any sort of “regular people”.  The Emerald City is taken apart with nary a peep by an all female army, and it is up to Glinda the Good Witch to make things right.  I have not even hinted at the secret about the true heir of the Emerald City (the Wizard of course was an impostor).  There is nary an obvious male to be found – and it’s striking enough that Baum is probably telling us something.

The Marvelous Land of Oz is a worthy follow up to the original story, and possibly more fun.  It continues Baum’s tradition of stories about unlikely heroes and strong women, and about finding the strength in oneself – and even imagining strength in others.  I certainly am looking forward to the next one.

The Smartest Book in the World

If nothing else, The Smartest Book in the World is just a handy guide for appearing more urbane than you are.  If you are someone like me who wants to pass off as literate in between armpit scratches and belches – Greg Proops offers a lot of advice.  There are book recommendations, movie recommendations, poetry (which I have not read much of honestly without either a rapper or mandatory homework involved) and even good advice on drugs, for the children of course.  This advice and discussion is offered with plenty of humor of course.  Proops is a very funny guy – and I have expressed my love for his podcast before.  I have also discussed why books by comedians let me down – that you often get a rehashed version of jokes you know – but Proops succeeds despite the book basically being just that.

For instance, a refrain through the book is baseball teams – teams of Women, teams of bombshells, teams of English Monarchs, teams of dictators.  These are all funny, from the choice to play each position as to Proops logic as to why.  But some of these did start out as things he did in podcast form, often prompted by audience members, always extemporaneously, which is dazzling.  It is amazing that each week he can string together an entertaining 90-120 minutes with only a few notes and no written material.  I was curious whether a medium where that sort of improvisational touch is unimportant would hinder him.  But what he does is take some of these half formed ideas, and provide some expansion and some clarity.  This means there is plenty of new material, and the ideas have someplace to go.

It is hard to pin a specific best part of the book, but I will call attention to the pacing, which Proops is particularly expert at.  As I’ve noted – there are a lot of lists.  Lists of baseball teams interspersed with his view on women, society, poetry and such.  What is good is that when each specific section could potentially overstay its welcome, he moves to another thing and so there is consistent energy.  It moves from serious to silly to social deftly and never slows.  Even the afterword and acknowledgements contain more book recommendations which I want to check out.  I smiled the whole time.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

L. Frank Baum’s 1902 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz exists as a terrific tale of adventure, which also teaches some worthwhile lessons about appearances and virtue and equality.  It is at its core a children’s book – but it is written with wit, tells an interesting story and is enhanced by some lovely illustrations (W.W. Denslow illustrator).

Of course it is hard to discuss Baum’s work without discussing the classic movie which I suspect everybody has seen – certainly I have well before thinking of checking this book out.  The film distills the story here and uses many of the elements, including the tornado, the munchkins, the flying monkeys and such.  But the book is more expansive, and sets up a universe which Baum would return to again and again.  Oz is not just a place with a yellow brick road.

Dorothy Gale, as everybody knows, is a young lady who lives in Kansas with her uncle and Aunt Em.  Kansas is no paradise, but it is home, and when Dorothy is in the house with Toto and the tornado hits, we all know how this goes.  The house ends up in Munchkinland and kills the Wicked Witch of the East and sets the Munchkins free.  This causes much rejoicing and Dorothy ends up with the witch’s silver shoes.

What I did not know of course – and the movie largely leaves behind – is that the Winkies are in the West and the Munchkins are in the East and ruled over by Wicked Witches while Good Witches look over the North and the South.  In the film we have Glinda taking care of Dorothy throughout, whereas in the book we have the job split.  On the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion, and one of the fun ironies of the book is how the companions seem uniquely equipped with what they seem to be looking for.

The Tin Woodman wants a heart – but of course he cries and the tears rust him and Dorothy has to oil him to make sure things keep working.  Similarly the Scarecrow is the one who often thinks of solutions to their problems, such as hiding them in his straw when the Wicked Witch of the West sends bees after them.  The Cowardly Lion wards off the Wicked Witches Winkie attacks before the Flying Monkeys come in to ruin the day.

There are other touches here that the movie lacks.  The flying monkeys have been enslaved too – and when Dorothy vanquishes the Witch, the monkeys suddenly can provide some crucial help.  Indeed, the Witch melting and the discovery about the Wizard’s true nature occur more like the 2/3 pole.  The journey to find Glinda the Good Witch of the South takes up the last act of the book (in the film the balloon business and Dorothy’s return to Kansas all happen at once).  The journey itself has pitfalls including exploration of the other parts of Oz, and an encounter with an exciting encounter with a spider.

Overall the book is a breezy read – and sets up future adventures well.  All of the members of Dorothy’s party have important roles to play – even if they don’t think they do.  And isn’t that the way it seems to be anyway?

Attempting Normal

Books by comics usually do not fill me with encouragement – I own a couple of George Carlin ones, and largely they seem like printed bits and one liners. This is all stuff I have seen him perform, just in book form. This is nice to have since I like the comedy, but it is decidedly not essential to own. Marc Maron is one of my favorite comics and podcast presences of course Attempting Normal thus is an enjoyable volume to read and have.  The question from a book review perspective is whether it is more.

The short answer to that question is, somewhat.  Attempting Normal is a collection of essays from Maron running the gamut from autobiographical to observational to absurdist sorts of musings.  Indeed the book is separated into two halves, “Attempting” and “Normal” along those lines.  “Attempting” is the more powerful of the two sections, comprised of essays mostly about his upbringing, Maron’s background in comedy and in dissecting his own relationships.  This is Maron at his best, mining darkness for comedy while still leaving it as darkness.  He is also not one to sugarcoat his own role in his personal dysfunction, most powerfully in “The First Marriage”

My first wife, Kim, was a nice woman.  I loved her.  I shouldn’t have married her.  I did it because I didn’t know how to break up with her.  I was too scared.  It was too comfortable.  She was a bit naive.  I was a bit out of my mind … I had grown to believe that I would never be happy but if I at least were married I could rest my chaos on a firm emotional mattress, that marriage would make things okay, normal-ish.  They weren’t.  I felt I was drowning in my bed.” (Page 18)

There is ownership there – an expression of pain and personal reckoning which makes this essay, and much of the first half more than just prepared bits.  Another touching essay is about how Maron became a fan of cats, and how it intertwined with the dissolution of his marriage and much of his career at that point.  This is all very much worth reading – and a display of the sort of humanity you associated with the best WTF work.

The second half, “Normal” is fine but less essential.  This DOES read like the sort of prepared bits which are things lifted from an act.  Not all of them are, but you do get a decent amount of the sort of things you might have read in Woody Allen’s Without Feathers or a somewhat edgier Dave Barry collection.  I liked the stuff about Whole Foods Market and Viagra, and can even forgive a couple of stories which were lifted and polished from podcast preambles.

Overall the book is generally funny – but the first half and the humanity it embodies, is so good that I sort of wished the rest of the book were like it.  Of course, that might mean I am a very depressed person – I don’t know.  Maron is one of the best comic voices working, and you can see him lay himself bare here at times – and it’s still funny, and in these moments, he is one of the best there is.  I just wish there were more of them.

Emma

Oh poor George Knightley. Well, not poor (almost all of the people we are dealing with here are some form affluent), but still.  My mind kept wandering to him as I lean over my keyboard to deal with Jane Austen’s Emma.  Certainly the titular heroine is as fully realized and sympathetic as any, and the entire book is told from her eyes and inside her head, and we’ll get to her soon enough.  But even early on, there is George Knightley, providing counsel and truthful good sense to Emma, all the while never getting to the point.  As someone who in his single days was often friendly to women while hoping they would divine my hopes, and saving me the inconvenience of actually putting the question out there.  It is trite and crass to just tell a man to “just grow a pair and go for it”, but it applies as well to an 1815 English twit as it does to any stammering Hugh Grant lead.

Of course, there is more, and this is Emma’s tale after all.  Jane Austen’s work is above all a droll comedy about the lives and loves of upper class twits, and the travails of female living in the nineteenth century.  Certainly the fact that these were twits was not lost on Austen herself – she noted before writing the novel that “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” (wiki citation).  Emma, t is described early as a smart, beautiful woman who has never been (and has resolved to never get) married, and she certainly does profile as the sort who does not make much of a rooting story.  She’s no underdog – she thinks more of her intelligence than the results seem to indicate, and she snuffs in on other people’s business.

But of course she sticks her nose in other people’s affairs.  Given her wealth, she is not wanting for a whole lot, and given some apparent devotion to her infirm father (well, I am not sure how infirm vs simply obsessed with disease) and spinsterdom, there is a lot of time that needs to be filled.  There is playing music, there is hosting neighbors and friends, there is doting on her nephews, and there is taking on a self-appointed Henry Higgins with a plain lady named Harriet Smith whom she takes under her wing.

Harriet seems nice enough, but in Georgian England upper-class twit standards she is no prize.  Her lineage is hard to trace, she is not especially well educated, and she is not especially wealthy.  She is not your first candidate to be set up, but of course this makes her more attractive to Emma.  Seemingly, Harriet catches the eye of Mr. Elton, the local vicar.  Emma of course, does all of the sort of intermediary things – scheduling sessions with her, Harriet and Mr. Elton, going walking, painting sessions and the like.  Mr. Elton seems more smitten with each meeting – and Emma feels that the Mr Elton and Harriet union is obviously going to happen, right?  It is certainly sufficient to steer her away from a farmer who has expressed great interest. (not worth her timber, no?)  Now – describing this situation it doesn’t require Nostradamus to identify the outcome here, and the possible misunderstanding that precipitates this.  I am not sure if Austen telegraphs this, or just that the story is so famous that I just knew it anyway (or that I saw Clueless).

Personally, this part of the novel sort of dragged – it takes a while for this misunderstanding to work itself out – more than the story needed, and personally it was a slog, even with the inevitable payoff.  However, if this is the weak point – it is really the setup for a gallery of other characters and situations.  This includes the arrival of Frank Churchill, the stepson of one of Emma’s old friends and her father’s old caretaker, and an affair or something which goes in another direction entirely.  It also includes Mr. Elton getting married to a wholly odious woman (although she is not really much more nosey and into other people’s business as Emma when you think of it, although far more cloying about it), as well as chatty Mrs. Bates and her niece Jane Fairfax.  Jane is alternately sickly, standoffish and rather sad – and some of this makes much more sense as a misunderstanding involving her gets cleared up.

All of this is fun stuff, not exactly an airport novel, but breezy once the story gets going.  Emma, once the shock of the Harriet incident has worn off, is on her way busying herself.  There is chemistry with Frank, perhaps, maybe, I don’t know.  Certainly all of this marinades inside Emma’s brain while she is watching out for Jane Fairfax and Harriet’s respective businesses.  This is where Austen’s method really starts to work.  Emma is so smart in some ways, and yet misunderstands so much as well.  But there is another layer, where maybe she doesn’t misunderstand, but sort of pushes the understanding into the place she wants to go.  Could she have figured out what would happen with Mr. Elton if she were not so vested in Harriet’s outcome?  It is hard not to get a sense of Emma running away from her own feelings – whether it be about Frank Churchill, George Knightley or anybody else – painting over them with layers and layers of busywork and concern on others’ affairs.  It’s the sort of thinly veiled desperation that you see in especially happy Facebook posts, Sex and the City hijinks, or (at least for me) your average Martha Stewart instructional program.

This part of Emma is touching and rather funny.  She has smarts, musical skills, looks – and whatnot, but such a holy fool about her own heart.  Of course it is impossible not to empathize with this.  Furthermore, when everybody can actually get their layers of emotional defenses pushed aside and get to the point, happiness is possible.  And that has not changed in the last 200 years.

Nada Columbus

“Nada” in Spanish means “nothing”.  “De Nada” is a term for “You’re welcome”.  The latter suggests hospitality, a welcoming environment.  The former, is well, you know.  I was curious about the inspiration for the Ohio Mexican restaurant’s title – why it was missing the preposition?  Was there some other inspiration?  Certainly “nothing” seemed appropriate after sampling the fare on opening night at its Arena District Columbus location.  When you check out the menu, it sure reads like a killer take on a tacqueria.  But alas, they were just words on a page.

Now the restaurant itself looked quite lovely.  The decor is nice, and the Arena District location will surely be a nice spot surrounding the Blue Jacket hockey games.  The bar was good – and my cocktail (I got a Caipinriha) was excellent, certainly indicative of why Brazilians swear by the stuff.  We were lucky enough to sneak onto the community table without a reservation.  It was noisy, as you’d expect for a first night – but certainly pleasant.  Seeing as we were out with proper babysitting help, this was promising.  And then, the food started.

Normally this is the point where I’d start to talk about the meal in chronological order.  That would work here, but frankly every dish – one after the other – just lacked ….  Actually, that previous sentence seems sufficient right there.  Now, I am no expert, but I have been to this neck of the woods frequently with my own family situation.  I have had meals which seemed inspired by the Hickory Farms catalog; I have had meals with people who complained that piquillo peppers were much too spicy, and I have eaten chili with cinnamon in it.  So maybe asking for explosion was just me being naive.  It sure seemed like I could taste the commerce compromises throughout, as if the executive chef peered over the ledge at true flavor and decided to back away because it won’t play in Central Ohio.  That is how you get :

  • An habanero-garlic salsa which was much more evocative of Italian Salad Dressing than any sort of habanero anything (not even sneaky building hot).
  • A chips and salsa trio where the most prominent flavor was of extremely oversalted fried FLOUR tortilla.
  • Tortilla soup with a thicker, “squash soup” sort of consistency. (which made the avacado garnish rather amusing)
  • Barbacoa (braised beef) Tacos: listed with pickled onions that had zero brininess
  • A shave ribeye and crema taco which tasted suspiciously like a steak and cheese.
  • Tacos coming mostly on flour tortillas (i shake my fist indignantly)

All of these dishes had the promise of boldness – but resulted in the sort of timidity I have come to expect in my travels in this part of the world.  Considering the tacos cost $6.50 a pop, I was grateful that the drink was good.  The service was nice and the management was pleasant.  But it would be nice to see a place like this take the leap and count on the smart consumers to join the ride.

An Inclusive College Football Playoff – Quarterfinals

With the first round done on campus, we go to the New Year’s Six Bowls to get you to the playoffs.  Click on the right links for the EAST, SOUTH, MIDWEST and WEST regions:

SOUTH REGIONAL FINALS – Peach Bowl – Atlanta, GA

Alabama 31, Michigan State 21: Behind 2 TJ Yeldon TD runs in the first quarter, Alabama raced out to a 21-7 lead at halftime, cruising to a 31-21 win.  Blake Sims threw for 342 yards as the Tide offense rolled up 490 yards against the stout Spartans D.  Connor Cook threw for 329 yards in a game where the Michigan State rushing attack was bottled up for just 75 yards.

EAST REGIONAL FINALS – Orange Bowl – Miami Gardens, FL

TCU 41, Florida State 34A crucial game tying pick-six in the 3rd quarter and a pounding running game led the Horned Frogs to a 41-34 win over the Seminoles and a berth in the semifinals.  For once, Florida State led at the half behind touchdown runs by Dalvin Cook and Karlos Williams.  However, Jameis Winston’s 3rd down pass was brought to the house in the first series of the third quarter and that opened up the floodgates, as the Horned Frogs scored 17 of the next 20 points.  Trevone Boykin passed for 167 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 67 yards and another score.

WEST REGIONAL FINALS – Fiesta Bowl – Glendale, AZ

Oregon 31, Kansas State 24: Darren Carrington’s 17 yard pass from Marcus Mariota with 9:24 to go proved decisive as Oregon held off Kansas State 31-24.  K-State, looking for its second straight upset win after winning at Mississippi State in the regional semis, traded punches with the Ducks throughout this seesaw affair.  Jake Waters through for 347 yards for the Wildcats, 133 of them to Tyler Locket, helping make up for an anemic rushing attack who only mustered 16 yards against the Ducks front.  The Wildcat defense troubled Oregon throughout, holding the Ducks to a mere 309 yards.  However, the Ducks offense was picked up by the defense and special teams, which added a 66 yard punt return.

MIDWEST REGIONAL FINALS – Cotton Bowl – Arlington, VA

Ohio State 35, Baylor 28: Cardale Jones threw for 332 yards and 4 TDs, helping the Buckeyes build a 35-13 lead and withstand a furious rally by the Bears in the fourth quarter.  Devin Smith caught 5 passes for 116 yards and a TD for the Buckeyes.  Shock Linwood ran for 136 yards and 2 TDs for the Bears, whose season ends at 12-2.

2015 NBA Power Rankings Daily Note

I am sure you are dutifully clicking on the link up there to see the NBA Power Rankings.  You’ll notice now, that with 30+ games in the books, it made sense to start adding “recent results”, so we not only see who has played the best all season – but give some extra points for who is actually hot.  This way, the rankings are actually more like a true power ranking – the best of the moment and not just standings.

How do we do it?  Well, we calculate power rankings as normal, for both the whole season and a team’s last 25% of games.  (so right now a team’s last 7 or 8 games usually)  The whole season is counted as 2/3, and the last quarter is counted as 1/3.  At the end of the season this means that 2/3 of the result is based on all 82 games, and 1/3 is the last 21.  This obviously does not capture injury effects, but no systematic approach can.  The GRAND column gives you the spread.  So Portland, at +10.1, is on a neutral floor for one game a 19 point favorite over the #30 Timberwolves.  Anyway, some quick takeaways using recent form?

  • Portland has been the most consistent team this season
  • The Thunder have caught fire as the injury problems have receded.  They are merely 5-4 in that “25% stretch” but have the second best adjusted scoring margin in that time frame.  This vaults them to #6 despite the #14 overall body of work.
  • The recent results is a much smaller sample of course, but it shows the Grizz and Cavs have not played well recently.  They are clearly the two winning records with the most slippage, while the Thunder seem to show most upside.

Anyway, see how this rolls.

An Inclusive College Football Playoff – MIDWEST Semifinals

Last region before the quarters.  Click on links for South, East, West

Ohio State 69, Memphis 3

(Columbus, OH) – Cardale Jones threw for 411 yards and 5 TDs, and the Buckeyes scored 2 TD in the final 39 seconds of the first half en route to a 69-3 romp at Ohio Stadium.  The American champs from Memphis could never get anything going, only amassing 290 yards as the Buckeyes devoured the usually stout Tiger defense.  Ezekiel Elliott added 134 yards and 3 touchdowns on 27 carries for the Buckeyes who move on to face Baylor in the Cotton Bowl.

Baylor 24, Ole Miss 21

(Waco, TX) – A Jaylen Walton fumble with 51 seconds to go ended Ole Miss’ chance at a stunning comeback as their 4th quarter rally fell short in their 24-21 loss to Baylor.  Bryce Petty threw for 210 yards and 3 touchdowns helping the Bears build up a 24-7 lead through three quarters.  However two late touchdowns, including a 34 yard strike from Bo Wallace to Cody Core, made it a 24-21 game with under two minutes to go.  After holding Baylor, Ole Miss had the ball at their own 28 and a minute left, but could not quite finish the job.